Dental Visits Decoded: Exams

Posted on May 12, 2015 in General oral health

Even if your teeth are in perfect condition, regular dental exams are a must. In addition to helping catch dental issues while they are easy to treat or even reversible, exams can also help with early detection of serious conditions such as oral cancer and diabetes.1 If it's been awhile since your last exam, here's what you can expect the next time you sit in the dentist's chair.

Exams are often paired with cleanings, and in many cases, a dental hygienist will clean your teeth before the actual exam. If it's your first time with this particular dentist, you can expect him or her to ask some questions about your overall oral health, medical history and medications you may be taking. Then, using small instruments and a mirror, your dentist will carefully examine the inside of your mouth for signs of tooth decay, gum disease and other issues. He or she will also check tooth alignment and signs of habits such as tooth grinding.2

In addition, the dentist will check for oral cancer during your routine exam.  During the oral cancer screening, the dentist will look over your gums, inner cheeks, lips and inner border of the teeth with a mirror.  He or she will examine under the tongue, the sides of the tongue and the back of the tongue and throat.  The dentist will conclude the oral cancer screening by looking outside of the mouth for any abnormal lumps along the neck or jawline as well as the outer cheeks.

Your entire exam should be almost pain-free, though there may be a little tenderness when the dentist is checking for signs of gum disease.

Once your exam is over, you'll either schedule your next regular appointment or discuss next steps if your dentist found an issue that needs treatment. That's it! What are you waiting for? Book your next exam today.